National Team stint ‘special’ for Denden & LA

Friday, 21 Apr 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad
© Denden Lazaro Instagram

For Denden Lazaro, suiting up for the national women’s volleyball team is a life-long dream.

But with her boyfriend – LA Revilla – also being considered to be part of the national men’s basketball team, the golden opportunity of competing for flag and country becomes even more special.

Lazaro, the former Ateneo star who is now campaigning for Cocolife in the Philippine Superliga (PSL), admitted that she is thrilled over the possibility of representing the country with Revilla in the 29th Southeast Asian Games set in Kuala Lumpur this August.

She said both of them are working hard, hoping to a land a spot in the final roster to make their country and respective families proud.

Lazaro would be one of the 25 players who will fight for a slot in the 18-woman national roster in the “Clash of Heroes” on April 28 at the Filoil Flying V Center.

The fund-raising event, which was organized by the PSC-POC Media Group in cooperation with Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. and Philippine Sports Commission, will also serve as a pep rally where the national men’s and women’s teams would be formally introduced and presented to the public.

On the same note, Revilla was picked as one of the 12 cadet players who made it to the 24-man Gilas Pilipinas pool headed by coach Chot Reyes.

It’s going to be a grueling battle for the 5-foot-7 spitfire as he fights for the point guard spot with seasoned players Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo and Paul Lee as well as rising stars Jio Jalalon and Mike Tolomia.

But for Lazaro, the mere idea of being included in the pool is already an honor.

“If me and LA make it to the national team? I think it’s gonna be something special.”

“Playing for the country is something every player has been dreaming of. It’s a serious commitment. That’s why I’m so glad that we’re both being considered to be part of the team. It’s really a huge honor and an inspiration for us to work even harder.”

Tough battle

While being considered to be part of the pool is already an honor, cracking the final roster is a sweeter achievement.

Lazaro said the battle for the libero spot in the national squad wouldn’t be a cakewalk as she competes with rising stars Dawn Macandili of La Salle and Kat Arado of University of the East.

Macandili, she said, is a workhorse and serves as the gold standard for all defense specialists in the country today. In fact, just last year, the PSL honored her as the first libero to win the Most Valuable Player award after powering F2 Logistics to the PSL All-Filipino Conference crown.

Arado is also a heavyweight.

She is said to be one of the best in the business in manning the backline and was named Best Libero in the 19th Princess Cup Southeast Asian Women’s U-19 Women’s Championship in Sisaket, Thailand last year.

“It’s really a tough battle for the (libero) position.”

“I’m up against younger and more aggressive liberos like Dawn and Kat. Aside from that there are other good liberos in the PSL like Jen (Reyes) and Jheck (Dionela). So it’s really tough.”

Sources said Lazaro has a special place in the national roster after being one of the most outstanding players in the physical, emotional, mental and physiological exams during the three-day tryouts.

Aside from that, she is also experienced and mentally tough after seeing action in the SEA Games in Singapore two years ago.

But Lazaro humbly dismissed these claims.

“It’s still a long way to go.”

“We’re still fighting for our slots. There’s no assurance yet on who’s gonna make it. The important thing for us to is to work hard and hope for the best.”

When told that Volleyverse sees Revilla working hard at the gym on a regular basis, Lazaro smiled.

“Yes, he is also working hard because making the national team together is our dream.”

That’s one heck of a relationship goal.

Perfect couple, indeed.